Gary Lineker has won his £4.9 million tax battle with HMRC.
The Match Of The Day host was told by the taxman he should have been classed as an employee of the BBC and BT Sport for his presenting duties, rather than as a freelancer.
The tax authorities pursued him for £4.9 million it claimed should have been paid on income received between 2013 and 2018.
It comes as part of legislation known as IR35, designed to clampdown on tax avoidance by so-called disguised employees, who charge for their services via limited companies.
Throughout proceedings the presenter, 62, insisted all taxes were paid on the income via a partnership set up in 2012 with his ex-wife Danielle Bux.
Tribunal Judge John Brooks found the IR35 legislation did not apply because there were direct contracts between the presenter and both the BBC and BT Sport.
The tribunal found that while Gary Lineker Media (GLM), which he set up with his then wife in 2012, was a partnership to which IR35 legislation applies, the appeal was still dismissed in full because contracts existed.
The judge said: “As a matter of law, when Mr Lineker signed the 2013 BBC Contract, the 2015 BBC Contract and the BT Sport Contract for the provision of his services, he did so as principal thereby contracting directly with the BBC and BT Sport.
“As such, the intermediaries legislation cannot apply – it is only applicable ‘where services are provided not under a contract directly between client and the worker’.
“In this case Mr Lineker’s services were provided under direct contracts with the BBC and BT Sport.
“Although such a conclusion might appear inconsistent with my conclusions that the intermediaries legislation can apply to partnerships… that is not the case.”
HMRC has 56 days to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) if it wishes to do so.
In response to the news, Waqar Shah, Tax Disputes partner at law firm Kingsley Napley LLP, says: “IR35 is such a wide-ranging regime with lack of clarity embedded in the rules that it is unsurprising it is increasingly an area for dispute with HMRC. Despite the under-resourcing challenges it faces, HMRC is in the process of contacting more and more organisations and individuals with respect to their IR35 compliance. They have extensive powers to claim backdated Income Tax and NICs, assess for interest and issue penalties so investigations are not to be taken lightly. However today’s win by Gary Lineker shows that HMRC is not always right. Until the government puts reform of IR35 back on the agenda, we will continue to see high profile disputes of this nature.”